Bacn is the New Spam

If you have ever seen some of the worst written Nigerian Spam scams than you know they can be quite a hoot! Have you ever logged into your Grandma’s email account? Nothing but PHARMA pill enhancement for things you do not want Grandma looking at. Today however, we consider Nigerian and pharmaceutical spam email to be a thing of the past.

Back in 2005 SPAM was a major email problem (as illustrated by the graph below) but it has been almost completely eradicated today. Here’s a video Google made in order to explain SPAM, once a common query that has now become a household word.

Spam protection has evolved as email has grown. Today most people don’t have SPAM on their minds. Now someone sees a can of spam in the supermarket and chuckles a little.

Todd Jackson, Gmail’s Product Mananger, even announced “we’re keeping more unwanted messages out of your inbox than ever before.” What this means is that Gmail’s SPAM filters have gained serious strength but this still leaves your inbox very vulnerable. Many emails from merchants or other commercial senders are cluttering your inbox more than ever before.

Looking at the economy from a macro level, the brick and mortar retail industry is shifting their marketing efforts towards online sales. In fact, the top online retailers sent an average of 211 marketing messages per subscriber in 2012 (Bloomberg). And 77% of consumers actually prefer email as a method of contact over social, phone, and direct mail (ExactTarget). In fact, it’s so effective that marketers call it the “golden goose”:

E-mail has “gotten this bad reputation in the past of being spammy and people misusing it,” Kritzer said, explaining why more companies aren’t talking about it as a marketing tactic. “But it’s also because it’s the secret sauce that works so well. So people might not want to talk about it because it’s kind of like the golden goose. They don’t want to ruin the golden goose.

The results speak for themselves: For every $1 invested in email marketing, $40 in sales are returned. That is double the return on search or display ads, and triple the return of social (Bloomberg). This golden goose tactic of email marketing for retailers is now turning into an annoyance for consumers. What is a person to do when they want to stay in touch with multiple retailers and commercial email senders?

Many are saying simply unsubscribe and your inbox will be clutter free! I respectfully disagree. Commercial senders are still important to consumers and they still want to see these messages when they have time. Emails like that you signed up for but want to see on your own time are called “bacn”.

One of the struggles with building an email filtering service is finding universally understandable terminology to describe the problem of receiving too many emails. Glider means something different for every user because each person does email slightly differently.

Depending on the target audience you will find a variety of preferences. Older business users are familiar with “spam filter”, Mommy-bloggers prefer “junk email filter”, and many others just want a “clean inbox”. We chose to use “distracting emails” because it describes the core pain of “bacn” emails.

Bacn emails are the emails that you want to see from commercial senders, but on your own time. Here’s a definition from Wikipedia:

Bacn (pronounced like bacon), is email that has been subscribed to and is therefore not unsolicited (like email spam is), but is often not read by the recipient for a long period of time, if at all. Bacn has been described as “email you want but not right now.”

As the article states, bacn is not spam and it is not unwanted. The difference between spam and bacn is that the user has signed up an agreed to receive the emails. Spam and bacn are similar in that they are both sent automatically, not from a personal contact.

Glider filters away bacn emails from the inbox, and further divides bacn emails into two groups: newsletters and notifications. Newsletters are typically consumed in bulk and contain anonymous data. Notifications are consumed personally and often relate to your online activity.

In short, bacn is the reason why your inbox feels more cluttered and disorganized than ever despite having a reliable spam filter. And I promise you’re not alone. There were over 27 billion bacn emails sent in 2010. The math works out to about 20 bacn emails per day for every person with an active email address. (

With thousands of bacn emails cluttering the inbox each year, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Glider removes the pain of bacn emails by filtering them away from your inbox into two labels that you can check on your own time. So whether or not your flavor of bacn is “junk email”, “spam”, “distracting”, “commercial”, sign up for a free trial on Glider for a clean inbox and peace of mind.

P.S. Here is a picture of real, crispy, mouth-watering bacon. Just in case that is what you came here for.


Editor’s Note: Check out this awesome article by Mark Ward on the BBC in response to this blog post.

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